JB Cafe: Taste Coffee (啡尝之阁) Turkish Sand Brewed Coffee @ Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
Taste Coffee is a new cafe that setup shop towards one end of Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk among a cluster of other cafes. The friendly family-run cafe is rather spacious with simple decorations. When Taste Coffee roasts their coffee beans, the aroma will drift down the heritage lane and pull coffee lovers into the cafe.
A signboard outside the cafe with the words "Turkish Sand Brewed Coffee" spurs the curiosity of adventure seekers and passers-by — me too!
Taste Coffee offers both black and white traditional coffees using locally-produced Liberica beans — there are teas and chocolate too. The cafe also sells roasted Liberica beans (大果咖啡), Canephora / Robusta beans (中果咖啡), Hainanese coffee, cold brew coffee (冷萃咖啡) and 3-in-1 instant white coffee.
Nevertheless, the cafe's signature coffee is the Turkish Sand Brewed Coffee, which is a rare sight in both Singapore and Malaysia. Their traditional Liberica coffees, either black or white, are also must-tries — if you have not tasted the flavours of Liberica coffee beans before.
The Turkish sand-brewed coffee is brewed using a cezve (or ibriki) with a long handle in a metal tray filled with sand. The tray-filled sand is heated over a hot flame and the hot sand provides an even distribution of heat to the coffee in the cezve.
To begin brewing, both the coffee powder and water are put into the cezve and heated up together. The amount of heat is controlled by adjusting the depth of the sand covering the sides of the cezve.
When the coffee is heated up to certain degrees, it will foam and rise to the top. The hot coffee is then poured out partially to another container with a coffee filter. The cezve with remaining coffee is again submerged in the hot sand, heated up and foamed again. The process is repeated 3 times in total — I should have taken a video...
And the Turkish coffee is ready! The dark-brown coffee, added with a small amount of condensed milk to balance its taste, is served with a sugar cube and condensed milk. The way to enjoy the coffee is to taste it before adding any sugar or more milk.
The strong Turkish coffee, roasted with specially-selected coffee beans and spices, is neither acidic nor bitter and is aromatic. I skipped the sugar cube, sipped half the cup of coffee before adding some condensed milk to try the different tastes.
For coffee-lovers who wish to try the original taste, go for the unfiltered Turkish coffee and request not to add any sugar or condensed milk totally — a Turkish kopi-O kosong. If you are expecting the unfiltered coffee to be bitter, it is not at all. The coffee tastes even better — just need to manage the floating coffee grounds so they will not get into the mouth.
Apart from coffees, Taste Coffee also offers toast-and-egg dishes for breakfast. There are other options such as sambal bee hoon, chicken chop noodle, etc. The butter-kaya toast with a soft-boiled egg on it is a light and tasty treat for the morning. This is really nice.
The triple-filling butter-kaya-peanut toasts is yummy with thick butter and nicely-roasted bread.
The chicken chop noodle comes a sunny side up fried egg and sambal chilli. The chicken chop is nicely-fried, not oily and not salty and goes well with the sambal chilli that taste nice and not too spicy. The noodle is evenly coated in a sauce that is not too sweet or salty too. Despite the fried chicken chop, this noodle dish is well-suited for breakfast.
Before leaving the cafe, get two bottles of the cold brew coffees for RM12 (each bottle is RM7) and try the different tastes of their coffee brewed at room temperature and kept cool.
Apart from kopitiams offering traditional kopis and modern cafes offering percolation and immersion coffees in the vicinity of Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk, there is Turkish coffee and Liberica coffee (for those who have yet to try it) now at Taste Coffee. Try them!
Kafe Taste Coffee
31, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
8am to 4pm | Closed on Wednesday